Jessica Ennis-Hill to miss Olympic holding camp but will compete in Rio

• London 2012 champion competing in first heptathlon in 2016 in Germany
• Zharnel Hughes set to provide highlight of British Olympic trials in 200m

Jessica Ennis-Hill is set to miss the official Team GB holding camp before the Olympics, partly over fears around the Zika virus, but she has confirmed she will compete at the Rio Games.

The London 2012 heptathlon champion said she would miss the training camp in Belo Horizonte. She admitted she was anxious, as a mother to one-year-old son Reggie, about the potential effects of the virus. “I’m concerned, I want to have more children and I worry about Reggie all the time,” Ennis-Hill told the Daily Mail.

However, she will not be joining Rory McIlroy in pulling out of the Games and believes she is capable of repeating her triumph of four years ago.

Ennis-Hill is competing in her first heptathlon of the season this weekend in Ratingen, Germany, hoping for a score close to her gold medal-winning tally of 6,669 points at the world championships last year. The 30-year-old has made a late start to the competition in 2016 because of minor injuries and has competed only twice all year but her coach, Toni Minichiello, is in optimistic mood.

“This is a dress rehearsal for the Rio Olympics which is less than two months away. In terms of her physical shape I am very pleased with Jess,” he said. “She’s had two post-pregnancy personal bests already this year and equalled her 200m time from last year, so things are definitely going the right way.

“She is in better physical shape than this time last year and we’ve done a hell of a lot more in the winter, so there are plenty of encouraging signs. However, the weather forecast is for some rain so we are more concerned with the performances than her overall score.

“That said, anything better than Jess’s score in the Hypo Meeting in Götzis last year of 6,520 is the benchmark, and ideally we are looking for somewhere between that and 6,765 which is the world-leading score set by Brianne Theisen-Eaton last month.”

Other British athletes are about to face their own in-out referendum over Olympic places but with none of the nation’s three reigning world champions competing at the UK trials in Birmingham this weekend much of the attention will be on the battle for sprint places.

The most compelling race at the British Championships is likely to be the men’s 200m in which Zharnel Hughes, who finished fifth in the World Championships in Beijing last year, faces two of the three British athletes who have gone sub-20 seconds in history: Adam Gemili and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake.

The men’s 100m is also intriguing. James Dasaolu and CJ Ujah are the favourites but others, such as the former world indoor champion Richard Kilty, believe they have strong claims. In each event only the winner is guaranteed a place in Rio – provided they have the qualifying time – with two more places at the discretion of the selectors.

The women’s sprints are also competitive, with Asha Philip and Desiree Henry battling it out in the 100m and Dina Asher-Smith expecting to come through in the 200m. But the most exciting race is likely to be the women’s 800m where five athletes – Lynsey Sharp, Jenny Meadows, Alison Leonard, Adelle Tracey and Shelayna Oskan-Clarke – have the qualifying standard.

The 42-year-old Jo Pavey will try to keep alive her dream of becoming the first British track athlete to compete in five Olympic Games. Pavey missed out on an automatic place in the 10,000m last month when suffering with a chest infection. But she is coming into form and will try to show the selectors she could be considered for an automatic place or a discretionary spot in the 5,000m or 10,000m.

Greg Rutherford withdrew from the trials with a neck injury while Mo Farah is training in Font Romeu. Other withdrawals include the world indoor long jump bronze medallist Lorraine Ugen and high jumper Isobel Pooley, who have injuries.


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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